How do we learn, adapt and change? That would be neuroplasticity


A big word for sure, but very important if you are looking for awareness change and new habits

Neuroplasticity is best understood by the saying – if it fires it wires. It basically refers to the plasticity of the brain, or the ability to form and strengthen networks based on repeated exposure, rehearsal and adaptation. The inverse is also true – use it or lose it

Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to rewire itself in response to new experiences. This process starts in childhood, when the brain is growing and making connections between neurons. But neuroplasticity doesn't stop in adulthood — the brain continues to adapt throughout life.

One way that neuroplasticity manifests is through learning new skills. When we learn a new skill, our brains create new connections between neurons. The more we practice a skill, the stronger those connections become. Over time, the skill becomes automatic and we don't have to think about it too much.

Another way that neuroplasticity manifests is through changes in our networks of neurons. Our brains are constantly making and breaking connections between neurons, based on what we're doing and experiencing at any given moment.

Think of anything that you are a complete beginner at and there is an inevitable learning curve. You are a beginner and you make mistakes and that is how it always works with anything new. Think of a sport, language, musical instruments, a trade, hobbies and even your job. There was a time when you were a beginner, did not know what you now know and therefore took a lot longer and made more mistakes than you currently do

Neuroplasticity is therefore a huge part of learning. In fact, it is what takes place from the repetition to make those skills and abilities easier over time. Anything you are proficient at has networks in the brain to make those skills and movements easier for you.

You will find a degree of overlap based on specificity. For example, if you train in any sport that creates and solid foundation of strength, fitness, mobility and spatial awareness, then it is a given that you will also have solid foundations that are way above the average beginner in almost every sport that is more physical than uniquely technical. The dexterity and motor control of musicians would also carry over into other related areas that would be shown to be above the expected average.

Neuroplasticity is a key component of learning. When we learn something new, our brains create new neural connections. These connections allow us to store and recall information more effectively. Over time, these neural connections become stronger and more efficient, allowing us to better remember what we have learned. I have real-world proof of this on 2 separate occasions and they are pretty mind-blowing. I had a book by Bruno Furst on using hooks to remember a number of random items.

Memory is around 5 items plus or minus 2. A few people may get to 10, but after that you just forget things as too many plates are spinning. A friend and I used this book for several weeks and could remember 70 random items, even with details such as someone playing the guitar on a boat in moonlight rather than a banana, or bicycle. What was more amazing was we could even tell you the number of any item you asked for. The second and certainly most impressive for any guests was remembering over half of the entire pack of Trivial Pursuit Genius Edition. In fact, what made us realise just how powerful the memory could be was the fact that if you asked one question from a card, we could tell you the others on that card and even give you the question when presented with an answer. We did win almost every game. While this is great if you do quiz shows, there is little point filling up the head with noise, but it does show you what potential we have by putting some work into this area. Although 25 years ago these feats still astound me and are wonderful memories.

Neuroplasticity occurs at all stages of life, but it is especially pronounced during childhood and adolescence, when the brain is growing and developing at a rapid pace. This is why it’s so important for young people to get a good education: their brains are primed for learning, and they have the potential to develop new skills and knowledge more easily than adults.

Neuroplasticity is a critical part of learning and development, and it underlies the brain's ability to adapt and recover from injury. Neuroplasticity occurs at all levels of the brain, from individual neurons to large-scale cortical networks. It is a fundamental property of the nervous system that allows it to learn, remember, and adapt to new experiences in order to make life easier. Neuroplasticity is thought to be involved in a variety of cognitive processes, including memory, attention, language, and motor control.

The reason I mention neuroplasticity is because you get to use and develop through those principles on a daily basis should you choose. It is not some term used to explain things as that is the way they are. It is a gateway explaining how the brain and body adapt and how you can harness that for improvement. Research has also shown that in areas such as music, basketball shots and golf, the act of mental rehearsal is enough to show physical progress without any physical activity. Initially, this seems beyond belief, but then you remember that the brain acts on content and has the goal of making our lives easier to improve our survival chances. Lift a weight that is a struggle and over time it will get easier as you adapt to a challenge. Mentally rehearse piano scales and you can improve your piano playing ability as you are strengthening the neural networks that create the movement from the spinal cord to the fingertips

The question then leaps out – what are you rehearsing? I know, painful when you realise the consequences of fighting yourself for many years and carrying the burdens of not being good enough. However, that all stops today. You know the program and you have just been focused on the stuff that does not promote growth and change. Now you get to choose a different path and different movies that will lead to progress, growth and a deeper acceptance. Many deep thinkers across time have told us that our lives are the result of our thinking, and it was just yesterday that I got to experience the masterpiece that is Being There starring Peter Sellers. The closing line will stay with me forever –

Life is a state of mind